Published on February 16th, 2016 | by Henri


Windows on historic home need improvement

Q.  I have a 1931 center hall colonial with 38 double-hung, six-over-six windows with aluminum storms. The windows are drafty. The storms rattle when the wind blows and many are warped and no longer operate. While I know that new windows would be more energy efficient I am concerned about the incongruous appearance of new windows and the high cost of replacing 38 windows. What are the most cost-effective options for making my windows more energy efficient and while retaining the home’s architectural integrity?

A.  If the cost were not a concern, you could replace your windows with new ones made by a reputable company such as Marvin. They come in 6-over-6 style, and are custom-made to fit your existing openings. These windows are so efficient that you wouldn’t need the storm windows.

The only inexpensive suggestion I have is to get some shrink-wrap plastic from a hardware store, tape it on the interior window frames for winter, and remove and dispose of it in the spring.

An option is to have interior magnetic storm panels installed by a qualified installed, although an experienced D-I-Yer can build and install them. But it is essential to apply the seal perfectly in order to avoid warm, moist air convection between the storm and primary windows, which would result in condensation between the two.

These windows were developed years ago by MIT. They are non-yellowing acrylic panels set in a metal frame and applied onto a self-stick tape adhered to the primary window frames. They can be carefully removed in the spring, and stored where they will not be damaged, or left on any windows you are not planning to open in the summer. They will also be helpful if you have central air-conditioning.

Magnetite storm windows would also be  expensive — although not as costly as replacing all your windows – but it would be a permanent fix. Google “magnetite storm windows” and you’ll have many sites to choose from.

Using plastic may make sense until you can afford to replace the windows with today’s efficient offerings.

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